A line up of cycling talent is set to take on SRAM Tour de Ranges in Clevedon, Auckland on 11 January 2020.
James Oram, Hayden McCormick and Josh Kench from the Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy team which launched in December, are among the talent.
Oram said with a good block of racing ahead in the Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy team, he wanted to race Tour de Ranges to test his legs and see how he is tracking.
Oram placed second in the 110km elite category in 2019, only milliseconds behind Aaron Gate.
“It's an honest but enjoyable course. Every uphill is met with an enjoyable downhill. If the wind is favourable, there's no better feeling than flying along the coast after Kaiaua.”
“Pacing is key for Tour de Ranges, as the main hills come later in the day. Keeping the group you’re in rolling at a comfortable pace to Snake Hill and Kawakawa Bay will ensure you've got enough energy for the run home. Fingers crossed the prevailing winds change, and we'll have a glorious tailwind home!”
Commonwealth Games gold medalist Samuel Gaze is also among the talent at Tour de Ranges after parting ways with the Specialized team in 2019.
“It was no secret 2019 was a testing one for me, but with time and being able to pick apart the dark times, I've been able to come back in 2020 with a fresh mind and what almost feels like a fresh start in the sport.”
“I'm just looking forward to riding my bike as quickly as I can and seeing what I can accomplish. I'm in a great place right now and I'm enjoying it. It's been just over 4 months since I last raced my bike, and in that time there have been 3 incredible months of good solid work put in.“
Gaze was the Tour de Ranges champion in 2016.
“I have fond memories of this event, and also with the nature of this race it will encourage aggressive racing so it's the perfect place to find out how the last 3 months of training translate into racing.”
World junior track cycling champion Ally Wollaston is also competing at Tour de Ranges.
The 18-year-old is the youngest in the New Zealand women’s endurance cycling team and is taking on the 110km at Tour de Ranges for the first time.
Wollaston said the timing of the event had not previously worked with her training schedule, but this year the event fitted in with preparation for the Tour Down Under which takes place next week.
“With no experience in this race, my expectations are focused solely on racing rather than results. Although I would absolutely love to win, my sights are set on a larger goal - this being the Tour Down Under. I’m very excited to see not only what this race brings, but what I can bring to the table as well.”
“The women’s endurance track cycling team have been in camp for the past week preparing for upcoming road events, so hopefully all the work that’s been done will pay off in results, not only in this race but for many to come,” she said.
Jorja Swain is returning to the event after placing second in the female elite category in 2019.
“It is the perfect event to start off 2020 and get my race legs in check as I have a busy campaign of racing planned for January and February.”
Swain said she likes that the event promotes equality within the sport.
“There is the potential for the elite men and women to have equal prize money, which is really great to see that the event organisers are trying to promote equality within the sport - a lot of other cycling races don’t offer equal money.”
Event Director Tim Farmer said “the event has a competitive field, it’s going to be an amazing race.”
He said the event aims to be more inclusive by reintroducing female elite racing with an identical prize purse to the male category.
SRAM Tour de Ranges offers road cycling course options including a 110km team, age group and elite category, 65km, 30km and a 48km mountain bike event.
The courses wind through the rolling hills of the Hunua Ranges with sea views of the Hauraki Gulf.
The 30km event starts at Orere Point while the 65km starts at Mangatangi. Participants will be shuttled to their startline with all distances finishing at the same location in Clevedon.
The 110km team event involves teams of three to six cyclists taking on the event with each rider still being eligible for general classification in the age group race.